Alcohol intake is associated with altered pulmonary function

Joseph H. Sisson, Julie A. Stoner, Debra J. Romberger, John R. Spurzem, Todd A. Wyatt, Joseph Owens-Ream, David M. Mannino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Little is known about the effect of moderate alcohol intake on lung function in the general population. Because moderate alcohol intake appears to reduce cardiovascular disease risk, we hypothesized that moderate alcohol intake is associated with better pulmonary function. To test this hypothesis, we examined the association between alcohol intake and pulmonary function, measured by spirometry, in a representative sample of U.S. adults who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. A stratified multistage clustered probability design was used to select a population-based sample. Data analyzed included alcohol intake, smoking status, education, body mass, sex, age, race, diabetes status, and CHF status. The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. We analyzed data from 15,294 study participants who completed extensive questionnaires in the household and a comprehensive physical examination, including pulmonary function testing, either in the household or at a specially equipped mobile examination center. Low-to-moderate alcohol intake was not associated with reduced odds of obstructive lung function. In fact, increased odds for obstructive lung pattern were observed only in former heavy drinkers. In contrast, low-to-moderate alcohol intake was associated with better forced vital capacity and forced exhaled volume in 1 s in the absence of obstruction, consistent with reduced odds for lung restriction. Using a logistic regression model, we found that individuals reporting alcohol consumption had a lower risk of lung restriction both before and after adjusting for confounding factors including smoking (P ≤ .001). Alcohol intake-related reduced risk for restriction was associated with lower risk of CHF, diabetes, obesity, and lower markers of inflammation (white blood cell, fibrinogen, and C-reactive protein) consistent with less lung congestion, external restriction, and/or lung inflammation. Our analyses indicate that alcohol consumption, even at very modest intake levels, is associated with less lung restriction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Alcohol
  • Lung function
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Restrictive lung disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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